Paula Nadelstern‘s Deep Gems collection for Aurifil was prepared as a representation of the vibrant and rich colors typically present within her kaleidoscopic fabric designs. Oranges, reds and pink offset the cool blue and green tones, creating a truly fantastic range. Though these colors work particularly well in partner with Paula’s unique quilting style, they would also be the perfect complement to a variety of quilt projects. The collection features 12 unique colors of the highly versatile 50wt thread.
THREAD COLLECTION DETAILS
12 Large Spools, 50 wt, 1422yds/each
2145 – 2150 – 2270 – 2260 – 4020 – 2545
5022 – 1147 – 2870 – 2810 – 2735 – 1200
To view this info on our website, click the image above. For purchasing, please contact your local Aurifil Dealer.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you first got started in the world of quilting and textiles?
I’m a New Yorker wrapped up in the fabric of city life. In fact, I make my quilts on the same block in the Bronx where I grew up. I settled into full time quilt making by way of the playground park bench. That’s where moms on hiatus from previous lives (I was an Occupational Therapist) hang out and share ideas—like organizing total non-sewists and quilt novices into making a raffle quilt for the local cooperative nursery school, the same one I’d gone to as a toddler. One good group quilt led to another and another. By the time I gave up my place on that bench to the next generation of moms, I had the expertise and repertoire for a comprehensive book on group quilts (Quilting Together, Crown Publishers 1988) and was stitching my way toward a new career. And to this day, over 40 years later, the Nursery moms make an annual raffle quilt.
Who or what has been your greatest creative inspiration?
My interest in things kaleidoscopic began in 1987 when I was struck by a bolt of fabric–a sumptuous, sinfully-expensive, bilaterally symmetrical Liberty of London cotton. Little did I know that purchasing a quarter yard would change my life forever, leading me three years and four quilts later to purchase my first actual state-of-the-art kaleidoscope and join the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society, The BKS is a society of artists who design and create kaleidoscopes, galleries and shops who sell kaleidoscopes and collectors and museums who appreciate and enjoy them.
The amazing first bolt of Liberty of London fabric
The insight from this anecdote is obvious: buy that piece of fabric no matter how expensive it is. As I peer through the many incredible kaleidoscopes I have garnered over the years, like a sleuth searching for clues, I discover my design inspiration all over again. Who knows what the next turn of the scope will reveal to me or to you?
With hindsight I’ve realized that another factor played strongly in the development of my personal design and technique strategies. Historians have suggested that the block-style method of making quilts evolved in response to the cramped quarters of early American life. My family’s living arrangements in an urban environment created similar considerations that, unwittingly, I resolved in much the same way.
When I started making kaleidoscope quilts, my workspace in our two-bedroom apartment was the forty-inch round kitchen table. (I’m the only person I know who taught her family to eat in front of the TV). I think the reality of limited space helped shape my idiosyncratic style. Instead of the traditional square-shaped-block, my block-style method is based on a triangle because a kaleidoscope is a circular design composed of identical triangular wedges that radiate from a center point. Throughout the design stage, I’m working on a single full-size triangle that is drafted on graph paper and patched from fabric using templates. Whatever I do to one triangle, I simultaneously do to all 6 or 8 or 16. I don’t see the final gestalt until the last seam is sewn.
Do you remember the process of creating your first quilt and how you felt once it was finished?
Lots of teachers on the circuit will tell you about the important female in their early lives who taught them to how to sew, insisting (kindly or not) that all imperfection be repaired. I grew up with a mom who prided herself on not being “fussy”, mended a lot (a habit left over from the Depression) and generously appraised every attempt of mine as either great or good enough. I am not complaining. When, as a young teen, I borrowed her much revered but temperamental second-hand, brand-name sewing machine, the bobbin would jam within minutes. Although this led me to suspect I wasn’t very good at sewing, I returned to it again and again because there is something optimistic about a palette of colorful, tactile fabric.
My matriarchal aunt’s gift to sixteen-year-old me of a steadfast Singer Featherweight©, purchased for $25 at a yard sale and fitted with a single hole throat plate, changed all that. (I used to call it an old machine until I learned it was a year younger than I am.) Together we made my first quilt (a comforter cover really) in 1968 in my college dorm, ripping up my old clothes into 10” squares and sewing them together. I was exceptionally proud of it and so was my mom. Today I work in a 15-by-10-foot studio revamped from my daughter’s former bedroom. Picture ceiling high cupboards stuffed with fabric, drawers overflowing with the paraphernalia quilters collect, 6 feet of design wall, and a Bernina poised for action on a 4-by-6-foot counter.
Paula’s prized first quilt
Your book, Fabracadabra, was just released with C&T Publishing. Can you tell us a bit about that process and what you loved most about it?
I’ve been told that I write books pretty much the same way that I make quilts. Fabric by fabric. Choice by choice. In a word, slowly.
The truth is, I’d rather be working on a quilt than writing about it. But it’s not until you write about something that you understand it really well. Breaking down your own creative act, first by identifying your personal strategies, and then by dividing them into a sequence of steps, forces you to reflect on what things aren’t as well as what they are. This exploration steers you in lots of valuable directions. It leads you to the vocabulary needed to articulate your private visual language. It helps you recognize the kinds of mistakes students are likely to make and head them off in class. And sometimes, when you are very lucky, it awakens new ideas, pushing you, the artist, further along your creative path.
The book demonstrates how quilts made of simple shapes can be transformed into complex-looking quilts that are easy to piece using gorgeous, intricate fabric. Some, but not all, of the quilts are traditional patterns, gift-wrapped with charismatic fabrics.
Do you have a favorite project from the book?
One of my favorite quilts from my new book FABRICADABRA, Simple Quilts, Complex Fabric is the quilt called An Agreement of Butterflies.
I was waiting to give my lecture to the Prairie Quilt Guild in Wichita, KS when a traditional butterfly quilt held up during Show & Tell captured my attention. In a flash, I recognized a kindred pattern capable of showcasing a gazillion symmetrical prints all at once. Choosing the fabrics bewitched me into a flow state, the name for those glorious moments when you’re so energized by the task at hand that time seems immaterial. I made many more 5” x 5” squares than needed.
Closeup of An Agreement of Butterflies by Paula Nadelstern
The collective nouns for various groups of animals and birds amuse me. A shrewdness of apes. A murder of crows. I assumed there’d be one for butterflies but when I couldn’t find it, I made one up. Assembled from forty-nine different fabrics (plus a common butterfly belly and black background equals fifty-one) from my first thirteen fabric collections for Benartex, these diverse colors and prints seem to be in accord — that’s why I called it An Agreement of Butterflies. So, color me speechless when a second internet search, six months after the first one, revealed labels for a multitude of butterflies. A rabble of butterflies. A flutter of butterflies. An equally appealing quilt title, a rainbow of butterflies. But the perfect coincidence, the goose bump laden karmic moment was the phrase: a kaleidoscope of butterflies. It must be true, I Googled it.
An Agreement of Butterflies by Paula Nadelstern
In your work, you herald the kaleidoscope, a word you say promises ‘surprise and magic, change and chance’. How has this informed your quilting style?
For almost forty years, the kaleidoscope has not only been my design inspiration, it’s also been my classroom. Analyzing not only what a scope is but also what it isn’t has steered me in lots of valuable directions, including toward the fundamental principles of design. I’ve learned to manipulate physical properties like focal point, rhythm and line to inject a feeling of motion into an otherwise static image. But it is the unique qualities synonymous with the kaleidoscope personality that I’m always trying to get to know better. Surprise. Magic. Change. Chance. I’ve learned that to conjure an instant of luminous and fleeting spontaneity, I’ve got to trust in symmetry, rely on detail, commit both random and staged acts of color and understand that the whole will always be greater than the sum of its parts. No matter what my quilts look like in the future, this personal design vocabulary, gleaned through the eyepiece of a kaleidoscope, will take the journey with me.
When did you first discover Aurifil threads and what do you love most about them? Do you have a favorite color/weight?
I’ve been using Aurifil 50 weight for years for piecing. My larger quilts can end up with thousands of seams. I like that I can rely on the combination of delicacy with strength because it helps keep the multitude of seams thin and not bulky.
I’ve used Aurifil 12 in many of the beautiful colors for embroidery and for a big stitch echoing a hand quilting stitch.
Paula at 2013 Quilt Market in Houston
KALEIDOSCOPIC XXXVIII: Millifiori, 82“x 82“, is my first quilt using only fabric from collections I’ve designed for Benartex and the first one quilted by me on a long arm machine courtesy of APQS. In 2013, I spent Houston Quilt Market in the APQS booth, quilting this extremely patterned piece, mentored by the delightful, generous staff. I think the choice of an olive Aurifil thread was brilliant. I’m fascinated by the effect, the impression that the thread changes colors, chameleon-like, against the multitude of hues in the quilt: golden, green, dark, light.
KALEIDOSCOPIC XXXVIII: Millifiori, 82“x 82“, Paula Nadelstern (2013)
How did you go about selecting threads for your Aurifil collection and what excites you most about the range that you are presenting?
My intent when selecting the colors for my Aurifil collection was like my goal when I design fabric for Benartex. I want to offer beautiful stuff that can be used in a myriad of ways for anyone’s piecing adventure, not just to be used to make kaleidoscopic designs. I welcome color and motif inspiration whenever I’m lucky enough to notice it: an elevator door, a set of Italian dishes, a painting at the Met, the arabesque patterns in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on a teaching trip to Abu Dhabi.
These charismatic and luminous jewel tones tickle my imagination. In fact, I plan to use DEEP GEMS as the inspiration for one of the colorways in my next fabric collection. I can’t wait to see what happens.
To enter-to-win 1 Large Deep Gems by Paula Nadelstern for Aurifil Thread Collection + 1 copy of Fabracadabra by Paula Nadelstern for C& T Publishing and 2 bundles of Kismet by Paula Nadelstern for Benartex , click here to head to the Rafflecopter entry page, or simply click on the image above. You do not have to complete all the options to be entered but the more options you choose, the more entries you have! Entries will be accepted from now through 11:59pm Eastern Time on Wednesday, December 14! Winner will be randomly selected and announced here on Thursday, December 15. Good luck!
Paula’s quilts have achieved international recognition for the innovative and complex designs inspired by the bilateral symmetry of kaleidoscopic images. Honored by inclusion in the Twentieth Century’s 100 Best American Quilts, her designs have inspired products including the vast carpet in the Hilton Americas hotel in Houston, TX and were showcased in the American Folk Art Museum’s first one person exhibition highlighting the work of a contemporary quilt artist (2009). In addition to numerous awards, Paula was a recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and The Bronx Council on the Arts. She is the author of FABRACADABRA, Simple Quilts, Complex Fabric, Kaleidoscopes & Quilts, Snowflakes & Quilts, Puzzle Quilts: Simple Blocks, Complex Fabric, Paula Nadelstern’s Kaleidoscope Quilts: An Artist’s Journey Continues, and Kaleidoscope Quilts: The Workbook. She designs textile prints exclusively for Benartex, Inc. and lives in New York City with her husband, Eric. her daughter, Ariel, lives a block away.
Learn more about Paula on her website — http://paulanadelstern.com/